Don’t let Nanette Lepore’s girly designs fool you–for all their femininity, they’re also a bit edgy. How else to explain her regular use of surprising color combos (her spring collection paired peach with eggplant, for example)? We chatted with the designer backstage before her show to get the scoop on color contrasting–and hear her plea for a bit more political awareness during Fashion Week.
Let’s cut to the chase: Your designs always have the best color pairings. What’s your secret?
Sometimes they kick the shit out of us, putting them together. This season, up until a week ago I was thinking I was out of my mind with this color story. We had to throw away so much, so it’s all in the edit. You have to make it new, you always have to push it. This season it was about pumped up pastels, but blown up. And everything’s anchored in black, it gives you this harder edge and makes everything more wearable. People are a little cautious with color, so if you have the black factor in there it makes it a bit easier.
What’s your advice for pairing colors?
I don’t think there’s any one formula. Just stand in front of the mirror like we do, [and ask] how’s this, how’s this? I spent a lot of time in the morning getting dressed–it takes time to put together a signature look, you’ve got to work on it!
What was the inspiration for your spring ’13 collection?
It moved into using new fabrics, like organza and nylons, for a firmer silhouette…and yet there’s still fluidity, there’s still movement. And strong women! Wanting to push the girl power thing, wanting to remind everybody to vote! Four years ago it was all anyone could talk about backstage, and this year it’s almost not being discussed. So at the last minute I was like, call the Obama campaign, we need buttons! We’re going to have buttons at every seat…we have to be political.
So is this the season Nanette Lepore gets political?
It’s all about pushing strong women, feeling like women need to be celebrated and not be afraid of dressing sexy or wearing something feminine or just feeling comfortable, but also being empowered and being in control of your own lives and your own fate. So vote!
Who is the strongest woman you know?
Grandma Lepore. She taught me a lot.
–REBECCA WILLA DAVIS